Daniel Pearl`s widow sues Pakistani bank, Al Qaeda
20 July, 2007
WASHINGTON: The widow of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by terrorists in 2002, has filed suit in US federal court against a Pakistani bank for handling money for a charity involved in funding his murder.
The suit also names Al Qaeda and at least 15 alleged members of the Islamist group, charging the estates of those who are deceased and several charity groups, the Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday online.
The Habib Bank Limited named in the suit is Pakistan`s largest commercial bank, the Journal reported.
Mariane Pearl, a French woman who was pregnant with their first child at the time of her husband`s murder in Pakistan, is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for the role played by the Habib Bank and several charities, including the Al-Rashid Trust. A trustee of a successor to the trust, Al-Akhtar International, owned the property where Pearl`s body was found, the Journal reported.
Both trusts have been named by the US Treasury Department and the United Nations as fronts for Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the Journal wrote.
The 49-page complaint also names Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. In a book published last year, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf identified him as being involved in Pearl`s murder.
Mohammed, now in US custody at the Guantanamo Bay prison, was captured in Peshawar, Pakistan, a month after Pearl`s killing, and has confessed to masterminding the 9/11 attacks in US military hearings.
The Wall Street Journal reporter was researching a story on Al Qaeda when he was kidnapped in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, lured by Islamic militants who promised him an interview with one of their leaders.
Pearl`s abductors videotaped his beheading and dismembered his body. Four militants were convicted of the killing, but Musharraf`s claim could be used against Mohammed if the US puts him on trial as President George W. Bush says he wants to.
Habib Bank, which has 1,500 branches in Pakistan in addition to foreign branches in New York, London and Zurich, denied the charges to the Journal.
"This is an absolute shock to me, because this is something that has no basis at all in fact from our point of view," bank president and chief executive Zakir Mahmood was quoted as saying.